Going to our local supermarket is not just a trip to the store to grab a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread.
It’s more than even accomplishing a massive shopping after which you struggle through the automatic door balancing your giant pack of paper towels atop a towering cat with one hand while pushing with the other. Oops, watch out for the curb!
A visit to Stop & Shop is a trip to the general store of old where townsfolk exchanged gossip ‘round a cracker barrel topped with a checkerboard, or rocked in an old bentwood chair on the porch while sucking down a sarsparilla.
|Kind of like this....|
Our supermarket is the spot to run into friends and enjoy a chat, catch up with neighbors and also the place where, occasionally, what was intended to be an in-and-out grab for a six pack of Diet Coke becomes an hour (or more) as the stars align for you to run into everyone you have ever known since the glorious moment you burst from the womb.
For me, this was the case last Saturday.
|Two feet of snow were predicted.|
It was the perfect storm, really: after lunch on a typically busy Saturday when all the weekend shoppers converge from the farthest corners of town. It was also the Saturday before a predicted snowstorm; toss in the toilet-paper-and-bottled-water-crowd and you have congested aisles and long check-out lines.
Add to this the fact that I was feeling needy after days home alone. Seth takes my car whenever there is winter weather build-up on the roads. His truck cannot even make it up our steep driveway which never sees the sun due to tall bushes and subtle angles and will retain a stubborn patch of snow until the Fourth of July. So, I was lonely and primed for seeing a face other than Buzzy’s. I needed to talk to someone who does not use a litter box and has a little gray nose.
|Did I hear what I think I heard?|
I was not disappointed.
There were old friends and new, neighbors and conversations that, literally, included a few tears as the travails and challenges of life were analyzed amidst tubs of cookies and seeded breads in paper sleeves in the bakery section. Luckily there was laughter to follow as high emotion morphed into the welcome sense that life can be funny through it all.
There were acquaintances to nod at and even a few chatty strangers and, in general, my smile muscles got an excellent work-out. In fact, there were people from every phase of my years spent in town and my children’s various stages from school to sports and beyond.
|Stop talking, just|
Amazingly, this excursion was free of the occasional person you spot from a distance who, I’m sorry to say, you’d rather avoid. There’s the one who simply won’t shut up (this trip, by the way, that was me. Sorry, Meg.) and does not recognize signs of imminent distress (eyes rolling back into one’s skull, clawing at one’s face and gagging or simply crumpling to the floor in a heap) and keeps on talking. There’s the occasional bore or whiner, the person you offended when your son was in high school, the one who offended you--also when your son was in high school, etc.
When confronted by this, there are several methods of evasive action. There’s the aisle switch which involves spurts of full-out running as well as skills of strategy. There’s the busy yourself in the fascinating ingredients of the box of rice pilaf you just happen to holding and there’s also the lean into the freezer case as far as possible in order to grab that package of curly fries in the way, way back. These tactics are immediately recognized by your opponent because they don’t want to talk to you either.
|So does Seth.|
I was gone so long that my famous non-worrier of a husband began to
hope fear that I had been abducted by aliens and transported
back to my home planet but upon realizing that my disappearance would mean that he will be solely responsible for
procuring his own pretzel rods and Budweiser, he’s relieved to hear the rattle
of the garage door rising upon my return.
I'll probably pop back in next Saturday. See you there!